Sally started the meeting and reflected on the fact that the last meeting had been on 3 March 2022.
1. Individual Updates:
At the Trustee Exchange event in May, Mark spoke about UnLtd’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (EDIB) journey. He received positive feedback from leaders of colour and people already on the EDI journey. But some of the evaluation forms for the event, from people not advanced on their own EDI journey, were less positive – ie that it was too confessional/too much. Mark had tried to make it accessible by focussing on the learning and including some of the personal challenges involved in the work and not being judgemental:
UnLtd has now aligned its EDIB reporting with the Diversity Forum’s framework and charter, and will publish results regularly on UnLtd’s website. https://www.diversityforum.org.uk/
UnLtd has made good progress with its equity audit, but a key challenge remains the B (Belonging) part of EDIB. This is due to the investment and sophistication in people management required, which we’re not geared up to offer right now. We are tackling this over the next six months to be able to make greater progress.
Joe said he recognised some of the infrastructure and organisational culture issues mentioned by Mark. Joe feels the responsibility for changing the culture and values within Buttle rests with him, but that it cannot rest solely with him, partly due to capacity. He agreed the issue is incredibly important, and that everyone within the organisation has to be involved.
Sally said she also recognised the need to change organisational culture and that it takes a huge amount of time.
Stewart explained that WSNT has had a 10-year relationship with the City Bridge Trust, during which they have shared back office functions. WSNT’s trustees have decided it will aim to become fully independent by 1 April 2023, and Stew has begun the process of ensuring WSNT has all its own systems in place by then (eg accommodation, HR, etc). Being part of the JFI group has helped him to bring an EDI lens to this process – eg in setting up the new grants management system and in how the new website will be designed and written and the images it will include.
Also, in Brent there is no sports infrastructure or development due in part local authority funding cuts. WSNT has begun working with a small number of other local organisations to address this, and Stew is ensuring this work will be progressed with an equity lens.
Sally thanked everyone for their support in relation to Barnwood Trust’s recent statement on historical wealth and investments. Sally said that there had generally been a positive response on social media to their announcement, however some other longstanding stakeholders including former trustees had written to the Chair to say they were unhappy with the publication of the findings.
Sally told the group that the very positive conversations with people of colour about the report and its honesty has alleviated any of the negative feedback.
These conversations have led to Sally looking at creating a post that can involve people of colour and with lived experience in a re-fresh of the organisational strategy.
James congratulated Sally on the work and said this could be an exemplar for other trusts and foundations to follow.
It was agreed that the other members would give any updates as part of their feedback on Personal Action Plans, as follows:
James said it had been useful to think about his plan and approach to racial justice through the group’s Agenda for Action headings.
James reflected that the opportunity to advance racial justice in his current organisation hadn’t been entirely what he would have liked it to be. The plan had been an opportunity to acknowledge that but also importantly describe other ways in which he can support and progress racial justice work.
The plan would also be a useful tool for holding himself accountable for his actions.
James commented that he would we be happy to put the personal action plans on the website, with the agreement of other members. However he was conscious that we should avoid the risk of being performative.
Paul fed back to the group that he had received a draft of the commissioned EDI Audit Report which contained a series of recommendations. The recommendations will enable the Trust to significantly progress their EDI work. Developing the culture of the Trust to be truly anti-racist and anti-oppressive will require continued focus on organisational and culture change.
Paul thanked James and acknowledged that he had used his template format for his own personal action plan!
Paul acknowledged that he is still on his own learning journey and one key aspect of this would be to continually challenge any institutional barriers and inequities both within Smallwood and in the wider sector.
There will be a lot of work to progress on the EDI audit – in his view reasonably good progress has been made on the grant-making side but there was more work to be done internally with the team in helping them to go on their own journey in relation to racial justice and wider EDI work.
Joe commented that the process had been really useful and that he had tried to portray an honest reflection of what he thought he could deliver and need to be done.
One key point, reflecting on one of Mark’s comments earlier, was that he wanted to create space within the team so accountability for racial justice / EDI work could be progressed by others as a whole organisation approach.
The other main point Joe wanted to reflect was achieving the right balance of doing things at pace but not letting the pace of things get in the way of doing things right – and working with the team to ensure they are supported and can deliver.
Joe confirmed that one of his ambitions was to carve out more time to really push forward the racial justice agenda within wider networks.
Joe reported that Buttle is doing a lot of work on co-production to devolve power away from trustees and the SMT and that the board were fully onside with this work realising its importance.
Joe also reflected on a recent conversation on impact investing with trustees that will be brought back to the board at a later date after him and the team have undertaken some further thinking on their approach.
2. Other business / next meeting
It was agreed to meet again in London in September or October and explore having an in-person half day session.
Sally will ask her Executive Assistant to co-ordinate availability and will also set up a WhatsApp group so ideas for the agenda can be more easily shared.
James said he would feedback to the chief executive who had expressed an interest in joining the group that we had not had time to discuss her application, but we would do so at the next meeting.